Advice when visiting

This advice applies to visits to any type of healthcare visit, but has been written with a dentist in mind because that is the hardest type of visit to mitigate. Everything here is taken from things we have come across, things other people have done and had success with and things many good dentists are perfectly happy to do. This obviously doesn’t mean they will all be possible in many cases but all worth asking about. They are loosely arranged in order of ease of asking for. Worth repeating, you probably need to say you are immune compromised irrespective of whether this is true, this is ridiculous and the following mitigations should be being applied all the time – but here we are, the most important thing is to maximise the chance of being accommodated. Obviously you can ask about these when booking the appointment and this might help, either way go along assuming they will have ignored that and be ready with the following.

  • Check the Safe Inside directory to see if there is a really accommodating practice near you!
  • Ask for the first appointment of the day. Viral load in the air builds up through the day and can last 4 & possibly more hours inside, so overnight any airborne pathogen should have been cleared
  • Could the window(s) in the treatment room be opened while you are there?
  • Can you wait outside the practice and be called when your appointment is ready so that you don’t have to sit in the waiting room?
  • Can they make sure once you are started that the door stays closed and people don’t come in and out
  • Can the staff in the room for your treatment wear a FFP3 mask – this is the big one, it is the one you really need but the one you can expect push back on. Take new sealed masks with you and as you ask literally hold them out as if you just expect them to agree. They are wearing a surgical mask anyway so please can they just see this as another type of surgical mask. We get a lot of nonsense on this point, they can’t wear them because they need to be fit tested – so you won’t be putting on the surgical mask then? We can only wear medical grade respirators – so you won’t be putting on the surgical mask then? They might just flat refuse.
  • Worth asking that the staff in the treatment room are not symptomatic (sore throats, cold like symptoms, upset stomach etc)
  • Some people take along personal / portable HEPA filters. This isn’t going to do much by way of mitigating the risk from the dentist but any risk reduction is good risk reduction and it will clear some of the general viral load in the air from previous patients
  • More for completeness than anything else, some people take personal FarUV devices and hold them on their chest. We don’t have any experience of how a dentist would react to this. The low power personal units have a very small effective range so putting one on a shelf somewhere in the room is not worth doing.
  • and again for completeness, you should be able to ask if they wouldn’t mind taking a LFT on the day of your visit, but honestly this is more likely to create an atmosphere than to be successful so we probably wouldn’t suggest it unless you are going to somewhere rated outstanding on Safe Inside
  • Finally – please let us know about the experience, good or bad so we can share the information and help other people.